Thursday, May 5, 2011

Parents and Teachers: We're Actually on the Same Side!

Hello there, Spot. I know I've been away for a little while. But. Right now, my brain is spinning, so I'm back here to talk to you about a few things. A teacher's best friend? Yes, you betcha, Mister. I just love the way you SIT and LISTEN. You are a role model for us all.

Today, I had two meetings with parents of kids in our class. And, as a bonus, I had a mom waiting outside my door at the end of the day. No biggie, right? Right you are! It was perfectly fine. I was happy to see all three of them. Parents and teachers are on the same team. But, sometimes we forget that.

The current climate out in the world is busy slamming, confronting and micro-managing teachers. I have my personal bias about that. Wall Street? Well...we don't know who they are or where those people actually live. So...I do think some of the public angst has turned toward the more visible souls in the real world: teachers and government workers too. I remember an era (pre-9/11) when it was popular to talk trash about policeman too. Thank goodness our police officers have shown the world how important their jobs are.

This blog post is not another self-serving teacher rant, though, Spot. It's more about finding satisfaction on both sides of the conference table. Today's meeting was an honest, open and kind exchange between all parties who care most about the child. Trust was not an issue, because the parents could see and value all that had been done on the student's behalf. And honesty was not an issue either, thankfully. These parents were seeking the truth and prepared to hear it in order to help their child. In fact, in both meetings, parents said they didn't care if that coveted 'A' was ever attained, because they don't see learning as a competition or a reflection of who they are as parents. They simply want their child to learn well! Refreshing, but not as abnormal as some might think. When it comes down to it, parents really do know their kids best.

I appreciated what these parents were saying...they didn't want undue pressure put on their child in order to fall in the 'high range.' But shouldn't all kids have a chance for that? In my book, yes. I will never tell a parent their child can't attain an 'A'! To me, that's just an awful message to give a child. I will set my sights on helping a child set goals, map out a path and work hard in order to get there. I am not a huge advocate of grades, I think they give everyone a false sense of success and sometimes failure too. If a kid fails a test, should they generalize the thought that they are a failure? I think not. Kids should be assessed in strengths and needs. If the goal is curriculum mastery, my job is to assess where their strengths lie and how I can find the entry points to get them to where they need to go.

I'd like to pay tribute to the many parents and teachers who work together, setting their own needs aside to build a plan for student success. This kind of effort sends a strong message of support to students that everyone is pulling for them. If we are true partners at the table, we listen as much as we speak. Fine-tuning...and fine learning is always the result of this type of give and take.

And oh, Spot? On a different note, I offered Mr. L a cup of tea...and actually only made one for me. "Where's mine?" he said. I didn't HEAR him, I said. Then he just laughed. "You weren't LISTENING," he said. This listening thing is not always easy (after hours) for me!